William Trevor has often been cited, along with with Anton Chekov, as master of the short story, so today’s choice of writer was an easy leap, although selecting a single story was more difficult. In the end, I decided to revisit an old favourite, The Kiss.
The protagonist, Ryabovich is a soldier with no experience of women. During a brief visit to the village of Mestechki and through a moment of fate, Ryabovich is mistaken for another and receives a kiss in a darkened room, from a girl whose face he cannot see. The physical kiss lingers and his imagination fills in the rest of the detail. Ryabovich dreams of going back to find the woman. At the end of the summer the soldiers return home via Mestechki but he misses the opportunity of a second invitation to the general’s house where he had hoped to find his imagined lover. He resigns himself to never knowing who had given him the kiss.
The Kiss is a tale of youth, lack of confidence and missed opportunities. At the end of the story we are left wondering if this will have been Ryabovich’s only kiss, or whether he will, in time have a real affair that ends in marriage and children.